We were at a birthday party last night. It was for someone in our couples group that was formed through the Catholic Church. When we go out as a group and we tell people we’re a church group, they sometimes take a step back (or in some cases run off), believing we’re part of a weird cult group, while others are curious and ask questions about what we say and do. For a joke I tell them we sacrifice a child once a month to bring rain. It brings me a somewhat perverse pleasure to see that look on their faces.
If you are curious about what we do say and do, meetings focus very little on religion, and end up with us all in stitches laughing about something completely indifferent to faith or God. We’re just great mates. That’s all you need to know.
The party finished about midnight. The birthday boy has a six month old daughter. To all youth reading this, it is not a myth that when you reach the age of 35+ years, for the large majority of you will not have the energy or desire to remain at parties past the witch’s hour. It really does catch up with you the next day, and when schedules are full and the weekends are short, you suddenly feel the urge to do something constructive with your weekends. Thus, a lesson to you guys, enjoy the fruits of youth while you can.
It was a cold night by Honduras standards, at least it felt like that. I’ve recently passed the six year anniversary since I arrived in Honduras. In this time I’ve laughed at Catrachos dressed in ski jackets and the like as soon as the temperature drops below 15°C. I am now one of them, and no offence meant, a tropical beast.
My friends live not far from the airport. The traffic at certain times of the day is horrendous, which for people in other parts of the city makes it feel like a million miles away. At midnight, however, when driving around with so few other cars (some times a drunken idiot weaves around you now and again, but again, I think this is what the witch’s hour does, as every city has their resident drunk drivers), you get a far better gauge of just how small Tegucigalpa is.
Then, about 150 metres before the overpass, my wife and I saw some emergency vehicles up ahead. The odd cars still out on the road joined a small line of traffic that now had to squeeze down a lane on a two lane road. Fire engines and ambulances were there. It caught my eye straight away. Not the nights, but more so what the nights were reflecting on. And it was on the tarmac. A white blanket. Covering up a man or woman or child. I couldn’t make out or remember the size. But it was having an impact on me straight away. A sad one, suffice to say.
“I wouldn’t look, babe,” I said to Pamela.
But I didn’t need to reply. By that point we were driving by and she saw the body. We drove on silence. Shock. Even though death on the road happens pretty much every day, it hits you. Death. The white blanket. Too often the white blanket in Honduras is associated with murder. This time I feel it’s too raw and unethical to speculate. I suppose I could pick up a newspaper this morning to find out. I don’t need all the gore though, which the press here will no doubt do. I just remember the people by the side of the road, crying, crouching down, hugging each other, taking stock of this sad life-changing moment that will have an impact for the many years to come. 21st January will always now be an anniversary of tragedy.
We drove on, like I said, in silence. Usually on the overpass, I sing the Star Wars theme tune, as it feels like one is flying over the city while on it. It always brings a smile to Pamela’s face. But no. Silence. Morbid thoughts about this happening to my own loved ones now hit my imagination. Selfish maybe. Only natural, you might say. It’s hard to know what to think.
As we drove off the overpass, back on to the Fuerzas Armadas, I said, rather meekly, “Poor family.”
“Sí,” Pamela replied.
I didn’t ask if she was thinking the same as me. We drove on in more silence, with “life’s too short” thoughts running through my mind. One moment that person is alive, thinking things, going somewhere. Maybe they were excited to see someone. Maybe they were sad about something. Maybe someone was waiting on them. That mind, those thoughts, just disappear. The finality of it all. So sudden.
Then it got me thinking of the recent mood around the world, and how of late I have been fed up of social media. I for one am guilty of using it for saying how frustrated I am of political events that haven’t gone the way I have wanted. But then there are people accusing others of things, damning them for their thoughts, calling them stupid, feeling they have an air of superiority which they have no right to.
I’m not telling people not to protest, nor am I telling people to stop believing in what they do. I suppose, rather naively you may think, I’m asking you to think about value of your anger. If you don’t like Trump, maybe ask why people felt the need to vote for him. If you don’t like immigrants, maybe ask why they felt the need to flee their homeland, leave friends and family behind. Abuse isn’t worth it.
After all, it could all be gone tomorrow. To the body on the road, Rest In Peace.